By Dave Andrusko
A little over two years ago, I wrote a story I remember to this day…and I’ll bet most of you who read “A Prayer Answered: 100-year-old-Mother reunited with biological daughter” do as well.
Minka Disbrow’s story of courage and faithfulness and forgiveness began in horror—raped as a young girl in 1928—and took an abrupt turn 77 years later–with the beauty of an absolutely unexpected reunion with the child she had reluctantly given up for adoption.
That reunion has produced a new book,” The Waiting” which I’m guessing will find a huge audience. The now 102-year-old Disbrow is “about to appear on national TV and on bookstore shelves across the country,” writes the Orange County Register’s Tom Berg. (Indeed, according to Berg, Disbrow was scheduled to tape an interview with the “Today” Show this morning.)
Here is some of the background we wrote about, courtesy of Amy Taxin’s terrific January 2012 story.
“At 17, she gave birth to a blond-haired baby with a deep dimple in her chin and named her Betty Jane. In her heart, Disbrow longed to keep her. But her head and her mother told her she couldn’t bring an infant back to the farm. A pastor and his wife were looking to adopt a child. She hoped they could give Betty Jane the home she couldn’t. ‘I loved that baby so much. I wanted what was best,’ Disbrow said.”
Disbrow never met the couple nor ever knew their names. But she sent many letters to the adoption agency which faithfully replied with updates until they eventually lost touch with her after a change in management. Disbrow married, led a wonderful life (she had two additional children) but always thought about Betty Jane on her birthday, May 22.
And then, in 2006, Disbrow, a devout woman, prayed
“Lord if you would just let me see her, I won’t bother her, I promise. I just want to see her before I die.”
Through a seemingly improbable series of events, she received a phone call on July 2, 2006, from a man asking if she’d like to speak with Betty Jane. Her name was now Ruth Lee. Taxin wrote
“She had been raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife and had gone on to marry and have six children including the Alabama man, a teacher and astronaut Mark Lee, a veteran of four space flights who has circled the world 517 times. She worked for nearly 20 years at Walmart — and especially enjoyed tending to the garden area. Lee knew she was adopted her whole life, and grew up a happy child.”
Berg’s story does an excellent job of bringing this remarkable reunion up to date. “’It was like we’d known each other all our lives,’ says Lee, now 84, of Viroqua, Wis.” For the mother’s part,
“It was like we never parted,” says Disbrow. “For 77 years, I prayed for that girl. She never left my heart.”
Although the family are private people, there was such incredible reaction to the mother/daughter reunion (it went viral), “ the family felt obliged to do more.”
Berg ends his story with this powerful conclusion:
“Disbrow’s granddaughter Cathy LaGrow teamed up with best-selling author Cindy Coloma to write ‘The Waiting.’
‘It’s about a mother’s love that carried through 77 years and never abated,’ says LaGrow, of Portland, Ore.
“It’s about more than love, however. It’s about forgiveness. And acceptance.
“’I’m not angry or bitter,’ says Disbrow, who has forgiven the man who raped her. ‘I don’t believe in carrying bitterness. Look what God did. He gave me a second family!’
“On Monday, she’ll tape an interview with ‘Today’ to be aired around Mother’s Day.
“But [last] Friday, she was back at church, folding bulletins as she does each week.
“Cooking, cleaning, volunteering at 102? No way.
“But as Disbrow likes to say, ‘This has given me new life.’
“Who could argue?”